In the years ' 50, Cuba experienced the brutal dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, characterized by profound social injustices and heinous crimes, rampant corruption. The Habana, delivered by the bloodthirsty dictator in the hands of the American mafia, had become in the meantime a great casino to open sky: the Las Vegas del Caribe.
The need to increase the gambling and to entertain the crowds of tourists who crowded the casinos, indirectly favored the wealthy need music, new rooms and the creation of new musical expressions.
The charangas, typical Cuban formations characterized by the presence of violins and flute, attained in those years their apogee. This thanks to the euphoria caused by a new rhythm, chachacha, created by Enrique Jorrín, American violinist and conductor.
This new tempo was favoured by the incorporation of congas in charanga classical training (which took place, actually several years earlier by Arcaño y sus Maravillas). The congas will help bring about an interesting variant syncopated rhythm (already present in the danzon de ritmo nuevo) which will be met with great enthusiasm by local dancers.
Enrique Jorrìn (to whom we owe the creation of danzón de nuevo ritmo "Silver Star" in which for the first time appears the famous phrase "Elmer castillano es un baile sin igual") in 1951 he composed the song "La Engañadora", considered the first Ottoman history. The Cuban musician, sniffing the changing of the times, changed the traditional danzón (eliminating the various parts to keep only the final part of the montuno) and concentrated totally on the rhythmic aspect so loved by the dancers.
He created a new ternary diagram:
1° an introduction,
2° a central part sung in unison by a choir,
3° A final part characterized by a refrain.
Actually the Cuban violinist when he created this new rhythm, not knowing what name to give him baptized him provisionally "mambo-rumba". Just two years later he decided to call his creation chachacha (sometimes referred to as cha cha cha), inspired by the onomatopoeic sound that caused the dancers in the mark with his feet the characteristic syncopated sequence of this dance.
The dissemination of the most famous orchestras collaborated Cuban chachacha era: Orquesta America, Aragón de Cienfuegos and José Fajardo y sus Estrellas to whom we owe such hits as: "Rico vacilón", "Los marcianos", "El bodeguero," "Nada para ti", "El Tunel", "Yo tengo una muñeca", "Me lo dijo Adela".
As for the dancing, the Cuban dancers would enter the fourth time to the music, to mark the syncope chachacha between times four and one. The rhythmic movement was then: (cuatro y a) dos-tres, unlike in the American tradition becomes popular ways to gain direct entry to the first time and mark the syncopation on the third and fourth time: a-dos (tres y cuatro) (offset though than the marcha of congas).
All demonstrating how dance, changing latitude, becomes adapted to the taste and local custom.
Originally the chachacha was a dance quite simple with figures composed of some Exchange of place or simple turn right or left. His cheerful and contagious rhythm fed though the creativity of the dancers that they began to create new "pasitos" (some slipped, others even skipped), to insert ever more fanciful figures which pushed the most virtuous dancers to come together in a circle to perform so-called "rueda de chachacha" from which the future will be called "rueda de casino".
The evolution of dance chachacha great importance had Bacallao, mythical component of Orquesta Aragón, which began to invent some pasitos (including some typical we find later in the pachanga) that began to be imitated by the dancers of the era.
Chachacha was immediately widely spread around the world. A huge success in Mexico and in particular got Latin community residing in the United States. It was at the legendary New York Palladium, Machito and that unforgettable Cuban Puerto Rican artists like Tito Rodriguez and Tito Puente, knew how to make one of their favorite dances chachacha generation.
Certainly the chachacha New York was quite different than Cuban because Rodriguez and Machito, Puente orchestras were not the,. charangas but no real big band and then their sound were closer to those of mambo. Diverissimo was also the way the dancers of New York surely inspired by the great popularity chachacha danced they had dance com tap dancing (just look at the performance of great dancers like Mike Ramos, Freddy Rios or "Cuban Pete").
Chachacha knew how to win the honour in the news even in Italy. Around it raged the same fever that had previously been able to arouse the mambo, favouring the birth, between the years ' 50 and ' 60, of some local record successes such as the famous "Toreador" by Renato Carosone.
Chachacha is still a hugely popular dance, walked steadily, albeit with a very different spirit among the standard Latin American dances that I remember: samba, paso doble, jive and chachacha.
Interesting to note, however, as in the world of standards, is called only chacha and even stranger that many are convinced that he is his original name.
Among all the Cuban rhythms chachacha is the only one never to have fallen out of fashion and even during the heyday of the sauce continued to have its lovers and has represented for many artists an alternative music. Even some pop artists took inspiration from it. A perfect example of fusion between rock and chachacha is represented, for example, by Carlos Santana, guitarist source Californian chicana, to whom we owe the immortal songs like: "Oye como va" (originally by Tito Puente), "Black magic woman", "Moonflower" until recently "Corazon espinado", who have been able to keep up, even in the darkest years, public interest in the Caribbean rhythms.
Nowadays there is to detect as Italian clubs closely salseros rarely ever hear some chachacha. The deejay prefer not to schedule it because they don't want to take the chance of clearing the runway. Therefore the same dance teachers aren't enticed to teach precisely because the premises do not dance ever.
Seems a bit the story of the cat that bites its tail but it's definitely a shame because chachacha, beyond its charm, it is absolutely a prerequisite to salsa and if done well can really help improve the rhythmic sense and interpretation of each dancer.
Definitely for it to spread the decisive contribution of the many Cuban teachers in our region. Unfortunately many of them, they don't seem to particularly interested in keeping alive their traditions, to direct all their energies towards emergent rhythms as bachata (originally by Santo Domingo) or the reggaetton (originally from Puerto Rico) but have nothing to do with their history and their musical tradition.
Waiting for their shot of pride, to us who love good music and afro-Latin-Caribbean culture we should appeal both to the industry than to amateurs: "LET US REDISCOVER the CHACHACHA!".
Dance with its simplicity and its contagious cheerfulness might help us to break down all the barriers existing today in the world of salsa …
By Nathan Chan